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Mount Locust, one of the oldest structures in Mississippi, is the only remaining inn, of more than 50, that once dotted the Old Natchez Trace during the period of about 1785 to 1830. It can be reached via the exit at mile marker five (5), on the Natchez Trace.
The land on which the house stands was originally part of a 1779 land grant, to Thomas HARMON, by the British Government of West Florida. Harmon transferred the property to Swiss-born John BLOMMART, who probably initiated the first construction, in order to meet the conditions of the grant, which included, "...one good Dwelling House to contain at least twenty feet in length, sixteen feet in Breadth." In 1781, Blommart relocated to the Old Natchez District, where he became a merchant, fur trader, land speculator, and planter, and eventually became one of the wealthiest men in Natchez. Eventually, Blommart became a prisoner of the Spanish. His property was confiscated, and he was sentenced to death. However, he was later released, and he went into exile in the British West Indies.
After Blommart's banishment, William FERGUSON from Virginia, and of Scottish descent, acquired the property. Fergurson had migrated to the Natchez area before 1776, and had served as garrison clerk of the British fort at Natchez, in 1778. Shortly after marring Paulina BURCH, Ferguson was forced to leave the Mount Locust area, and move to a farm. However, Ferguson later returned, purchased the land and acquired an additional 1,215 acres. Ferguson and his family, which included seven children, remained on the land, developing it into a plantation.
By the time Ferguson died, in 1801, the house had become a successful inn. Paulina Ferguson remarried to James CHAMBERLAIN, and three more children were born to Paulina.
The Mount Locust Inn served it's travelers well until around 1825, when traffic on the Old Trace declined to the point where Mount Locust, unable to sustain itself as an inn, became a sort of "vacation home" for wealthy Natchez citizens, until shortly before Paulina's death, in 1849.
Restoration on Mount Locust began around 1956. Part of the original framing was uncovered, and it was determined that the original structure consisted of a large room, 16 by 20 feet, and three galleries. The south portions formed small rooms, while the main room conformed to the British West Florida land grant regulations. The building materials had been locally obtained, a major portion of the frame being constructed from Sassafrass. The walls were of poplar, although later additions were constructed from cypress. The brick was fired in a kiln located on the property, just south of the house.
The furnishings are not original, but are of the period.. In a few cases, reproductions have been used.
The Ferguson Family Cemetery is located a short walk from the house at Mount Locust. It contains the graves of William Ferguson, his wife Paulina BURCH, four of their six sons, and two additional sons by Paulina's later marriage to James CHAMBERLAIN. Also buried in the cemetery are various members from five generations of the Chamberlain family. One guest of Mount Locust who died in 1825, Robert LAW, is also buried here.
This path is believed to have been a road once leading to one or more fields at Mount Locust. It is lined with old red cedar trees.
Thanks to Ellen Pack for the use of this material!